It’s that time of year to head outdoors and enjoy the beautiful weather. Whether you are heading to the pool, lake, or any outdoor activity make sure you take steps to protect your skin.
According to the American Cancer Society, more skin cancer is diagnosed in the United States each year than all other cancer combined. Melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, is less common than other skin cancers but is more likely to spread. Melanoma accounts for the vast majority of skin cancer deaths, but is curable when detected early.
The best way to detect skin cancer early is to be aware of new or changing skin growths. The ABCDE rule outlines warning signs: A is for asymmetry, B is for border irregularity, C is for color (variable degrees of tan, brown, or black), D is for diameter greater than 6 millimeters, and E is for evolution (a change in the mole’s appearance).
If you notice any changes to your skin, please have it assessed by a health care provider.
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There are some risk factors for melanoma that include a family history or personal history of melanoma. High exposure to ultraviolet radiation or use of indoor tanning is a risk factor for all types of skin cancer. Risk is also increased for people with fair skin that burn easily, natural blond or red hair, and a history of excessive sun exposure.
Children should be protected from the sun because severe sunburns in childhood may increase the risk of melanoma.
You can protect your skin and still enjoy time outdoors. Choose sunscreens with broad spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB with an SPF of at least 30. Apply sunscreen generously – don’t forget your nose and ears – and reapply every two hours. Wear a broad brim hat, sunglasses that block UV rays and other protective clothing. Seek shade when possible from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Don’t use tanning beds.
Baptist Health Lexington and Lexington Parks and Recreation have teamed up again this summer to provide information on sun safety at the following times and pool locations:
- June 13 – Woodland, noon to 4 p.m.
- June 16 – Castlewood, noon to 4 p.m.
- June 23 – Shillito, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- June 27 – Tates Creek, noon to 4 p.m.
- July 11 – Castlewood, noon to 4 p.m.
- July 21 – Shillito, 8 to 11 p.m.
- July 25 – Southland, noon to 4 p.m.
- Aug. 4 – Douglass, noon to 4 p.m.
- Aug. 14 – Picadome, 1 to 3 p.m.
Enjoy your time in the sunshine but remember to protect your skin from any harmful damage.
Suzanne Coulter is the melanoma nurse navigator at Baptist Health Lexington.